• Christians on Ageing 01 May 2018 | View comments

  • 1st May 2018 | By David Jolley

    The weather has continued to be determinedly influential – our bowling green is too wet to bowl on and there are days when every step out of the door finds rain. Despite this the trees and plants, birds, bees and other creatures are pressing on and making for a beautiful Spring.

    Wednesday threatened and provided rain – but in bursts – rather more dowsing than showers. This was the day I had been invited to a meeting of the executive committee of Christians on Ageing. Across the Pennines, past the university and The Crucible to the Central United Reform Church where the ground floor is a warm and busy café. The church activities are on the first floor and were suitably sober brown, quiet.

    Christians on Ageing is 35 years old and has a membership of 200. Its website: http://christiansonageing.org.uk/who-we-are/ summarises its spectrum of activity and ambition: as works throughout the United Kingdom, operates as an ecumenical, Christian organisation, publishes resources for individuals and local ministries, arranges conferences and events, promotes research and innovation, comments on current issues affecting older people.

    There is a Dementia Network run by the marvellous Rev Dr Albert Jewell, author of some of the most important and earliest books on age and spirituality and faith. The network produces a newsletter every six months, its membership exceeds that of the base organisation. Rev Dr John Lansley is editor of ‘Plus’, the quarterly magazine of Christians on Ageing. I have not read it previously but from its current issue it is a well-presented collection of thoughtful, quality reflections on age-related topics. A good read and potentially useful and inspiring resource.

    This is an association of very good people and there is huge potential for influence in this country and, I would think, throughout the world. I must look for similar organisations in other countries. Barbara Stephens has remarked, in discussing the development of Dementia Conversations, that every town and village has a church or churches. The Christian Community offers a skeleton for activities and support. In most denominations the majority of active members are old. Part of the rationale in the establishment of Christians on Ageing was to counter the perception that many churches were, and maybe are, at least as ageist as the secular world. Dwindling congregations want to see young people joining them, to offer a future. This is a complex issue but it seems to me that working with the positive message of membership and evidence that as we age we give more value to spiritual life and to faith, says the churches will gain from standing against a culture which dismisses old people and faith: Old and proud in faith.

    There are already links and mutual respect with other major faiths and this will surely be another dimension for the future

    Wednesday was a good day. It seems to me that Dementia Pathfinders and Christians on Ageing can help each other. Let us see: Following Providence as it emerges.

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